NYC is so teeth-chattering-cold I imagine my dentist rubbing his plastic-gloved hands with glee.
As I exit my house, the cold cuts through my bones and I wish I was a big, brown bear.
In my mind, I’m a big blond, brown bear. Or Ursus arctos for the erudite zoologists among you. I’d show off my distinct shoulder hump, round dish-shaped face and carefully manicured long, sharp claws.
But don’t bother visiting my cozy den where I’m huddled until the warmer weather breaks through.
Then, join me to find my omnivorous diet of plants, berries, fish, and small mammals. (Source: nps.gov) That’s as close as a bear gets to following a Mediterranean diet.
Table of Contents | Volume 11, Issue 3
BTW, did you know that there are brown and grizzly bears in Alaska? #Truth
Marketing Lesson of The Week
► If The NYPL Gets Rid of Fees, Should You?
I’ve had a public library card since I was 6 years old. The local library required you to sign your name to get your own card. While I could sign my name before I was 6, being left-handed, I wrote my name backwards and the public library found that unacceptable.
With the library card came responsibilities, namely returning the books on the date marked on the receipt in front of the book. Otherwise, I had to pay the overdue fine out of my allowance.
Across the many libraries I’ve used since then, overdue charges are a common feature.
Late fees at McGill University’s Library, where professors put required readings on hold, were the worst. Depending on class size and the number of copies of the book or materials, you could borrow the materials for either 2 hours or 2 days. For me, neither was long enough to either read or copy the materials.
Recently, the New York Public Library eliminated its late fines, a feature they prominently promoted across their owned media. This notice appeared in their email newsletters, in their libraries, and on the computer-generated returns slip. I should note that Austin Kleon would be sad that they no longer use date stamps from spongy red ink pads.
You may wonder why a library would eliminate a revenue stream, especially since marketers always look for new ways to increase the money that comes into an organization.
While I have no insider information regarding the NYPL’s rationale for deciding to stop charging late returns, here’s how I would approach the question as a marketer.
At a minimum, the NYPL needs its Gross Margin to be zero or greater. To accomplish this use this formula:
Gross Margin = Total Revenue minus Total Variable Costs
If the Gross Margin is less than zero, the library loses money from Late Fees. Then, this is an easy decision. Don’t charge Late Fees.
BUT, from a business perspective, even if the library loses money on this fee, they may still choose to charge for Late Returns.
- Prevent patrons from keeping books indefinitely to the point where they need to replace the book.
- Already have full-time staff who have time to service these fees without incurring additional time.
Since the library has years of data on revenues from late fees and related costs, they can predict how much Gross Margin this fee generates.
Based on their data, they know what percentage of their books are late and which patrons generate these fees. As a result, they decided that the amount of money collected cost more than not charging late fees. Also, they can determine at what point to stop lending books to patrons based on their returns history.
Actionable Marketing Tips
- Calculate the potential revenue and related costs for proposed products. Where you don’t have actual data, use information from similar products where they exist. Then monitor your sales and costs carefully to ensure that they generate revenue. Or, at least, have a positive Gross Margin.
- Take care when assessing products to ensure that your audience considers these elements separately. Otherwise, you risk losing money on other products.
- Promote any new offerings or removal of costs across your owned media.
► Will Co-Branding Work For You?
This week, my husband went to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library, my favorite branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL) to pick up more Lee Child mysteries for me.
To check the books out, I lent him my “Limited Edition” co-branded NYPL-Marvel Spiderman library card.
As a marketer, I’d be the first to tell you to use your brand everywhere and use it consistently. The co-branded NYPL-Marvel Spiderman library card valiantly wears the library’s logo so its lion is visible. Even more important, I love having it in my purse and using it.
Since getting people to read books and use the library more is part of the library’s mission, I think this card works overtime for the NYPL brand.
When my husband returned home with only one Lee Child book, he announced that he had signed up for his own library card. Unlike me, he turned down the Spiderman option in favor of the classic NYPL card featuring its stately lion on a red background.
The NYPL adopted its stone lions as its mascots and has trademarked them. They’re even part of its logo. While the lions’ names have changed over time, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia named them Patience who guards the south side and Fortitude who sits to the north.
The lions represented the qualities New Yorkers needed to survive the 1930s economic depression. (Source: nypl.org)
Patience (left) and Fortitude (right) in front of the main NYPL building.
It’s not the first time I’ve seen a major brand break with its rigorous brand requirements.
In 1993, McDonald’s could only open their restaurant in Sedona, Arizona on the condition that they change their golden arches logo to teal.
Local officials didn’t want the brand’s golden arches to hurt the town’s natural beauty. (Source: Atlas Obscura)
Like the NYPL, the turquoise arches of the Sedona McDonald’s have attracted more tourists because they’re different. In fact, people visit the teal arches to take photos for posting on Instagram.
Actionable Branding Tips
- Make sure your brand gains from co-branding deals. It can be in terms of improved visibility, recognition and/or revenue.
► How Can You Track Conversational AI Maturity?
Created by VUX World, Conversational AI’s DITAT Maturity Model shows the 5 different maturity stages conversational applications go through as they move towards AI transformation. It also includes enterprise conversational AI use cases to help you to prioritize and scale automation initiatives.
Deflecting use cases reduce contact with human agents by changing the customer contact to another channel. Deflecting strategy goals reduce the cost to serve only part of the customer journey.
Their aim is to answer simple visitor questions and prevent or reduce the need for human interaction. Deflecting use cases rely on hard-coded content into a bot, taken from a webpage, or knowledge base, or serves a link or search bar to respond to the question.
An Interpreting strategy uses conversational AI to gather insights on customer needs and business problems to improve strategic decisions or to answer more complex customer queries.
Interpreting use cases include data retrieval, routing, customer sentiment analysis, topic analysis, matchmaking, feedback and authentication.
Data Retrieval and Routing use cases improve average handle time, call transfer rates, first-time resolution and NPS.
Transacting enables customers to complete tasks via conversational assistant or bot. In the process, it becomes an assistant to accomplish processes and workflows.
Transacting Use Cases include reschedule delivery, book appointments, change registered address, make purchase, cancel or upgrade service, and/or take out insurance.
Most of the time, Transactional use cases build on existing business processes. Transacting strategy improves customer experience and operational business performance. Automating transactions leads to potential cost savings, increased service availability and scale, reduced wait times, and better customer experience with live agents who handle more complex needs.
An Assisting strategy helps users with deeper, more complex needs. So your assistant uses a consultative approach to help customers arrive at a solution. Assisting also uses context and information you already have about your prospect or customer to make the experience more proactive and personal.
These advanced capabilities need further connectivity into the line of business systems and humans ready to step in when needed in real-time.
An Assisting strategy provides next-level customer experience. It improves NPS (Net Promoter Score), CES (Customer Effort Score), ranking, quality assurance and consistency. Also, it streamlines agent workloads and reduces agent attrition.
Transforming lets customers guide and shape the conversations and the related business processes and systems to accomplish things humans alone can’t do. Available across conversational channels, your AI assistant handles a wide breadth of end-to-end processes redesigned around the conversation’s needs. Self-learning and self-improving systems adjust based on the AI assistant’s performance and/or user behavior.
Transforming use cases are hyper-personalized so no two conversations are the same. This requires redesigning business processes around the customer journey. Behind-the-scenes, architect technology to deliver the customer journey.
A Transforming strategy creates long-term strategic differentiation to create new value streams, products and services, new operating models, and next-generation customer experience.
A Transforming strategy enables you to scale by serving more customers with fewer resources to build a culture of innovation and constant improvementNear-term, it generates revenue, acquires and retains customers, improves customer experience and increases cost savings.
Actionable Voice Marketing Tips
- Use this DITAT Maturity Model to assess your organization’s level of Conversational AI. Then, follow it to continually improve your organization’s abilities over time.
Plan Ahead: Mark Your Calendar
► Voice Lunch Fridays – Every Friday at 1 pm ET
An open and often free-wheeling discussion of all things Voice and AI hosted by Alan Firstenburg and Mike Novak.
► VUX World With Kane Simms – Jan. 19th at 12 pm ET
Digital Humans For Healthcare
A Podcast With Paulina Lewandowska of Roche
► Project Voice 2023 – April 24 – 28 in Chattanooga, TN
The number 1 event for Conversational AI / Voice tech in America
► Creator Economy Expo – May 1-3 in
If you run a content-first business this is the event to be at!
Use the code AMG100 to get $100 off any pass.
Hurry: Super early bird pricing ends on January 27!
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Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Child#/media/File:Lee_Child,_Bouchercon_2010.jpg